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Contact: Lynn Stewart, Centenary News Service, 318-869-5120

Xavier University President Dr. Norman C. Francis to Speak at Centenary College's Commencement May 6

Dr. Norman C. Francis

SHREVEPORT, LA — Dr. Norman C. Francis, president of Xavier University and chairman of the Louisiana Recovery Authority, will speak at Centenary College of Louisiana's 2006 commencement ceremonies.

Centenary's annual commencement and baccalaureate will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, May 6, in the Centenary Gold Dome. Some 210 students are candidates for degrees this year and will receive bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, bachelor of music, master of arts in education and master of business administration degrees from Centenary.

As president of the nation's only historically black Roman Catholic university since 1968, Francis has guided Xavier's growth both in size and dimension. During his tenure, the university has more than doubled its enrollment, broadened its curriculum, expanded its campus, and strengthened its financial base.

Francis, the longest-sitting university president in the U.S., has been at Xavier for more than four decades as a student and administrator. He is credited with being the catalyst for nearly every building constructed on the campus during the past 35 years. With much of the campus damaged by flooding related to Hurricane Katrina last fall, Francis is overseeing recovery of Xavier as well as chairing the governor's Louisiana Recovery Authority, which is overseeing the state's overall recovery effort.

Francis has served in an advisory role to five presidential administrations-- including the historic National Commission on Excellence in Education which issued the “Nation at Risk” -- in addition to serving on 54 boards and commissions. He has received 30 honorary degrees – most recently from Harvard, Dartmouth and Boston College-- and will also receive an honorary doctorate from Centenary on May 6, along with Terrel J. Deville, president of the Louisiana Methodist Children's Home in Ruston, La.

Francis has also received 16 major awards, including the Times-Picayune "Loving Cup" in recognition of his unselfish service to the New Orleans community.

He is immediate past chair of the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation, chairman of the board of Liberty Bank and Trust and a member of the Times-Picayune Advisory Board. In the past he has been chairman of the New Orleans Aviation Board, the Metropolitan Area Committee Education Fund and the board of directors of WLAE-TV.

On the national level, Francis' activities include serving as chairman of the boards of the Educational Testing Service, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, The College Board, the Southern Education Foundation and the American Association of Higher Education. In the past he was member president of the UNCF, a member of the Board of Trustees of Catholic University, and chairman of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the southern regional accrediting agency for more than 11,000 institutions in 11 states.

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